Staying productive when I get home after a long day of classes used to be really hard for me. I’m not going to lie. I was usually completely exhausted and I wanted to do nothing but sit in front of the TV or have a nap. It used to be difficult to get motivated to do anything at all. In fact, if I could make a graph of my productivity levels when I got home, it would have looked something like this:
(By the way, negative productivity was when I didn’t have the energy to do things that weren’t related to school. It’s totally a thing.) I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Because it’s not like once you finish classes you are done for the day. There are always assignments to be done, chapters to summarise or an exam to study for. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll get some work done every day but staying productive isn’t always that simple. Sometimes your exhaustion cancels out your motivation and you end up taking a 4 hour nap.
To keep those productivity levels up after your classes are done there are a few changes you can make to your usual routine. Since I started doing these things, I have the energy and focus I need to stay productive in the few hours after I get home. Once I finish what I want to achieve then I have time to unwind and do nothing. It feels so good to have some time in the evening to relax that I now find it super easy to be productive. And I want you guys to feel like that too! So, here are 3 essential tips to staying productive after a long day.
Take Care of Yourself to Reboot Your System
You’ve had a long day, so the last thing you want to do is zap your energy further by jumping straight into more work. You want to find ways to get your energy levels back up so you don’t fall asleep on your keyboard.
- Making yourself something to eat. Avoid quick snack foods, and opt for something like a sandwich or a fruit smoothie. If it’s later, make sure you have a substantial meal for dinner.
- Having a shower and putting on fresh clothes is a great way to get relax your body and reboot your mind.
- Shift your focus to a quick puzzle, like Sudoku, to stimulate your brain.
- Having a “quick” nap. We all know that a quick nap can turn into an “Oh dear I’ve slept way too long” nap. It can also make you more drowsy and halt your productivity.
- Giving yourself a break with some TV. It’s very easy to say “I’ve had a long day, so I want to reward myself“. It’s completely understandable, but it can also be really difficult to start studying again after you start watching something (Does “just one more episode…” ring a bell?). Remember, you can always do these activities after you’ve been productive. Think of it as something to motivate you to finish your work!
Environment is the key to staying productive!
Where you do your work has a great impact on your productivity levels. Where you sit, background noise and the people around you can either help or distract you. If I know that my house is going to be incredibly noisy or filled with people that will distract me, then I’ll stay on campus and go to the library or study rooms to do some work before I go home. You want to make sure that your surroundings are beneficial to you.
- Sitting at a desk or table where you can’t lie down. Studying in a different place, such as the dining table, can be a refreshing change of scenery that gives you more focus.
- Popping in some headphones to avoid noise distractions, or letting people know that you are studying and ask them not to disturb you.
- Staying at the library or study rooms on your campus instead of going home straight away. You could even go to a coffee shop for an hour and get some work done.
- Studying in places where you can lie down such as on a bed or a couch. It’s too tempting to just close your eyes for a second.
- Studying in places that are a hub for activity. If people are walking in and out of a room saying hello, chatting with you and distracting you, then your productivity levels will drop.
- Putting on the TV as background noise. It’s not just background noise that you are putting on, it’s a background picture and this can be distracting. Radio or music is a much better choice.
Plan realistically and you’ll achieve what you want
A significant part of being productive and getting through the work that you want is to set a realistic plan for yourself. If you are already tired from a full day of classes, you don’t want to get home only to flounder around trying to decide where to put your efforts. This used to be a problem for me before I discovered the importance of prioritising. Being realistic about the work you want to do is also going to allow you to complete your goals.
- Thinking about how much time you want to spend studying. You may have extra-curricular activities or work that plays into this, meaning you won’t necessarily have the same amount of time every night.
- Setting yourself some realistic goals. Try listing 3 things that you want to do at the end of the day. Make sure that they are achievable tasks.
- Spending too much time thinking about what to study, or overthinking what you are working on.
- Setting yourself tasks that you have no way of completing (such as a 5,000 word essay in one night). Smaller achievable tasks will help you with staying productive after a long day.
These techniques were a lifesaver for me. I implemented them into my afternoon routine and it completely changed how I felt at the end of the day. Not only that, but staying productive after a long day helped me stay on top of all my work. Since I worked on something every night, I tended to avoid having lots of stressful deadlines approaching all at once. Sometimes I even manage to get more work done, just because I’m in a productive mood and want to keep working. Then once I feel satisfied with my work, I have the rest of the night to unwind and relax and that acts as a kind of reward that keeps me motivated.
You guys should definitely try out these tips, especially if you have full days of classes and still need to get a lot of work done in the evening. Let me know how it goes! Or if you have other great tips for staying productive after a long day, leave them in the comments below!
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